SHERWOOD, Ark. (KTHV) - Several recent attacks on women in northern Pulaski County spread fear throughout the community. It also caused a lot of women to want to learn how to protect themselves when there is nobody nearby to help them.

The Sherwood Police Department held its first open self-defense Tuesday evening. Department leaders had considered offering self-defense courses for a while as part of its community policing program, but many more people said they wanted it after several women were attacked in Sherwood and North Little Rock.

“Especially the Overbrook Trail [attack],” Kelley Steinhauser said. “That really made me want to, you know, learn certain techniques so I’m not caught off-guard.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind. I did. And so, I just didn’t know where. It wasn’t as advertised. And of course, on Facebook, if it’s there, you know, we’re always on it.”

When a department member posted on Facebook last month to gauge interest, more than 500 people responded. So the department arranged for Danny Dring, a local martial arts instructor and reserve Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deputy, to lead a class. Roughly 75 people [mostly women, with a handful of men] attended.

“I want to learn techniques and styles, like he was talking about, how you could jab him in the eyes, or [strike the] throat area,” Steinhauser explained. “Or in the knees, the kneecaps. I didn’t even think about that!”

Dring talked about situational awareness and also taught some defensive tactics by demonstrating on one of his assistant instructors. Steinhauser said she learned a lot, including a tidbit about why pepper spray can be ineffective in bad weather.

“I didn’t realize that the wind comes back, that could get back in your eyes,” she mentioned. “And I’m like, wow, okay, gel. That was awesome!”

The North Little Rock Police Department is leading the investigation into the attacks, which took place during March and April. Five women were targeted in North Little Rock, and one was targeted in Sherwood. Detectives believe the same man is responsible for at least five of those attacks.

The man has not been caught, though nobody else has been targeted in a few weeks. Enough fear remains in the community, however, that the women in the class decided more education would be better than less.

“It’s just becoming more local,” Steinhauser said, “and now there’s drawings of his picture, and I want to learn techniques to better protect myself.”

Sherwood Police Department will host another class on May 20, which will last from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. It will be smaller, more interactive, and focus more on protection against sexual assault. That class, like the class Tuesday evening, will be free for participants. Depending on how many people apply, the department will hold more courses after that, though a fee might be charged.

To apply, call (501) 835-1425.

The North Little Rock Police Department also hosts self-defense classes. To inquire about dates and times, call 501-758-1234.